Anthony Morgan: Unrepentant
Show type: Melbourne 2008
Anthony Morgan drinks too much and laughs too loud. Anthony Morgan is essentially a dinosaur - too sick to live, too dumb to die.
Once every year Anthony ventures north from his idyllic home on a farm in remote and rural Tasmania, to reflect, ruminate and occasionally rant at the inhabitants of the city that he called home for most of his seemingly endless life.
Anthony remains one of comedy’s true innovators, a performer whose truly unique take on the world around him comes to life on stage in a seamless combination of tight, elegant prose and stream of consciousness improvisation.
Anthony Morgan was once one of the most successful comics in Australia, a TV regular who could sell out Melbourne’s sizeable Town Hall come festival time. Now, a decade after his supposed ‘retirement’ to a simple life in rural Tasmania, he’s back in a room above a pub.
But, speaking as a foreigner knowing nothing of his past, a pub seems his natural habitat. It’s easy to imagine him propping up the bar, probably in some remote outpost, whiling away many an hour ruminating on the ways of the world. That’s the sort of comic he is.
He’s a man who knows his mind, and isn’t left wanting when it comes to expressing it, with an ability to philosophise easily and at length at the drop of an idea…
It doesn’t always crystalise into perfect comedy, too often simply being an amiable chat, but when everything does click, the effects are impressive. You can’t put it much better than his own MySpace page: ‘The funniest comedian in the world. Unfortunately, also the unfunniest. It's a raffle.’
The first 15 minutes of this show illustrate the first assertion, with a wonderfully funny and topical take on the storms that recently lashed Melbourne. His annoyance with TV presenters referring to it as a ‘wind event’ that caused a power ‘outage’ is brilliantly expressed with withering wit. He splutters as he grapples for the right words to express his disgust, which only makes his contempt funnier.
He goes on to chat amiably about his new life, with an hilarious. story about stabbing himself in the leg while trying to be the perfect handyman, which elicits great laughs from his pain.
A set list is taped to his microphone stand, facing the audience with the aim of prompting requests. But none comes, so he ploughs on with his own train of thought, which may be a mistake. Because as he starts on a lengthy, but measured, rail against the stupidity of capitalism, the chuckles dry up. He’s such an engaging raconteur, with a careful but absorbing delivery reminiscent of Dave Allen, that the audience still hang on his every word. But he’s rather too carried away with his opinionising to put in any gags.
However, reviewing what Morgan talks about in one performance seems futile. He happily admits to a lack of discipline in his shows, going simply where his mood takes him, which means you’re unlikely to see the same routine twice. That set list remained largely untouched, suggesting he’s got several hours of material to tap, should he feel so inclined.
It’s enjoyable to see such a gifted comic being so relaxed, even if it’s frustrating to be missing out on what must be killer routines. He’s not only honest in material, but in his thoughts too – if he doesn’t feel like making the show go in one particular direction, he won’t, and hang the lot of you.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett